Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announces stay-at-home order to end June 4

On June 3, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that he would let the state’s stay-at-home order expire on June 4 at 11:59 p.m. There are currently 10 red-phase counties under the stay-at-home order. Wolf announced on June 3 that those counties could move into the yellow-phase on June 5. When that happens, all counties in Pennsylvania will either be in the yellow-phase or green-phase of Wolf’s reopening plan.

Pennsylvania will be the 36th state to end a stay-at-home order. After it ends, stay-at-home orders will remain in seven states. Six have Democratic governors. One (New Hampshire) has a Republican governor.

Jacobsen wins Republican nomination for Montana Secretary of State

Christi Jacobsen defeated state Sen. Scott Sales, former Secretary of State Brad Johnson, and three others to win the Republican nomination for secretary of state in Montana. Jacobsen received 29.4% of the vote compared to Sales’ 25.3% and Brad Johnson’s 23.1%. No other candidate received more than 15% of the vote.

Jacobsen currently serves as Montana’s deputy secretary of state. She said, “I’m running because I’m the most qualified candidate. I have the experience of the job, so I can hit the ground running on Day One.” She received endorsements from Susan B. Anthony List and current Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R).

Jacobsen will face state Sen. Bryce Bennett (D) in the general election, which is expected to be competitive. The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State listed Montana as a target office.

In addition to overseeing elections and business filings, the secretary of state in Montana serves as one of five members on the Land Board, which is responsible for overseeing the state’s public lands held in trust for schools. The five seats are filled by five state executives: the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, and superintendent of public instruction. Republicans currently hold a 4-1 majority. In 2020, four of the five positions represented on the Land Board are open.

Florida to open bars, bowling alleys, and movie theaters

Today, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that starting June 5, bars will be able to reopen at 50% capacity inside and full capacity outside, with service only for seated patrons. Movie theaters and bowling alleys will also be permitted reopen at 50% capacity the same day. These new rules will apply to all counties in the state except Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.

Florida began its phased reopening in late April, with the above three South Florida counties excluded due to heightened positive coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations. Each of those counties has since been granted permission by the governor to reopen at a slower rate than the rest of the state.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney wins Democratic gubernatorial nod

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) defeated businesswoman Whitney Williams (D) to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Montana. As of 11:03 p.m. Mountain Time, Cooney had received 55.7% of the vote to Williams’ 44.3%. Cooney campaigned as a continuation of Gov. Steve Bullock’s (D) two-term administration. As lieutenant governor, Cooney ran with Bullock on a joint ticket in 2016. Bullock faced Greg Gianforte (R) in the general election and won with 50.3% of the vote to Gianforte’s 46.4%. The 2020 general election will feature Cooney versus U.S. Rep. Gianforte, who won the GOP nomination for the second cycle in a row.
The general election is expected to be competitive with major race forecasters rating it as a toss-up. The 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial elections were decided by margins of 1.6 and 3.9 percentage points, respectively.

Greg Gianforte wins Montana Republican gubernatorial nomination for second cycle in a row

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) defeated Attorney General Tim Fox (R) and state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-06) to win the Republican nomination for governor of Montana. As of 9:05 p.m. Mountain Time, Gianforte had received 52.8% of the vote to Fox’s 28.7% and Olszewski’s 18.5%.
Gianforte was also the party’s nominee for governor in 2016. He lost the general election to now-Gov. Steve Bullock (D), 50.2% to 46.4%.
Bullock is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. Gianforte will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the general election.
The general election is expected to be competitive with major race forecasters rating it as a toss-up. The 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial elections were decided by margins of 1.6 and 3.9 percentage points, respectively.

Pennsylvania extends absentee ballot receipt deadline to June 9 in six counties; postmark deadline remains June 2

On June 1, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued an executive order extending the absentee ballot receipt deadline for the June 2 primary to 5:00 p.m. on June 9 (with a postmark deadline of June 2, 2020) in Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. In all other counties, a return deadline of June 2 remains in effect.

Pennsylvania’s primary was originally scheduled to take place on April 28. On March 27, Wolf signed into law legislation postponing the primary to June 2. The law also authorized counties to consolidate polling places without court approval and begin processing mail-in ballots beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Pennsylvania is one of 28 states that have modified their absentee/mail-in voting procedures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

State legislative special elections scheduled in Louisiana, Washington

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 54 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives on July 11, 2020. There is no primary, and the filing deadline was on May 22.

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 38 seat in the Washington State Senate on November 3, 2020. The primary is on August 4, and the filing deadline was on May 15.

Cutrona appointed to Ohio House of Representatives

A Republican committee in the Ohio House of Representatives appointed Alessandro “Al” Cutrona (R) to the District 59 seat on May 28. The seat became vacant when late state Rep. Don Manning (R) died unexpectedly in March. Cutrona was sworn in on May 28.

Cutrona is an attorney and works as the chief operating officer and in-house counsel at an infectious disease medical practice in Youngstown, Ohio. He will serve the remainder of Manning’s unexpired term, which ends on December 31, 2020.

Cutrona fills the only vacancy that has occurred in the Ohio legislature this year. With his appointment, the partisan composition of the Ohio House of Representatives is 61 Republicans and 38 Democrats. Ohio has a Republican state government trifecta, which exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

The Republican Party has held a majority in the Ohio State Senate continuously since 1992 and a majority in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1994 until 2008 and again from 2010 to the present.

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Justice Paul Thissen will run for a full term on the Minnesota Supreme Court

On May 19, 2020, Justice Paul Thissen announced that he had filed to run in the 2020 election for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“I am excited to launch my campaign, even in these trying circumstances… My first years as a justice have confirmed how deeply our courts touch the lives of Minnesotans in the most fundamental ways,” Thissen said.

Thissen filed for the ballot by mail due to changes that the state made to its election procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The filing period is open until 5 p.m. on June 2.

Judges of the Minnesota Supreme Court are chosen in nonpartisan elections to six-year terms. Interim vacancies are filled via gubernatorial appointment. Appointed judges serve until the next general election occurring more than one year after their appointment. They may then stand for election to a full term, and other candidates may file to run against them. Each current member of the state supreme court was initially appointed rather than elected.

Thissen was first appointed to the court in 2018 by Gov. Mark Dayton (D). He was appointed to fill the vacancy of Justice David Stras, who was appointed by President Donald Trump (R) to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Thissen was Gov. Dayton’s fifth appointment to the state supreme court.

The primary election for Justice Thissen’s seat on the state supreme court will take place on August 11, 2020. The general election for the seat will take place on November 3, 2020.

Before becoming a state supreme court justice, Thissen was a registered member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party and served in the state legislature for eight terms.

He served as Speaker of the House and Minority Leader. He ran for governor in 2010 but suspended his campaign when he was considered as an applicant to fill the vacancy on the state supreme court.

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